Donald Justice


Variations for Two Pianos



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Variations for Two Pianos
For Thomas Higgins, pianist
There is no music now in all Arkansas.

Higgins is gone, taking both his pianos.


Movers dismantled the instruments, away

Sped the vans. The first detour untuned the strings.


There is no music now in all Arkansas.
Up Main Street, past the cold shopfronts of Conway,

The brash, self-important brick of the college,


Higgins is gone, taking both his pianos.
Warm evening, the windows open, he would play

Something of Mozart’s for his pupils, the birds.


There is no music now in all Arkansas.
How shall the mockingbird mend her trill, the jay

His eccentric attack, lacking a teacher?


Higgins is gone, taking both his pianos.

There is no music now in all Arkansas.



Poem







 

This poem is not addressed to you.
You may come into it briefly,
But no one will find you here, no one.
You will have changed before the poem will.

Even while you sit there, unmovable,


You have begun to vanish. And it does not matter.
The poem will go on without you.
It has the spurious glamor of certain voids.

It is not sad, really, only empty.


Once perhaps it was sad, no one knows why.
It prefers to remember nothing.
Nostalgias were peeled from it long ago.

Your type of beauty has no place here.


Night is the sky over this poem.
It is too black for stars.
And do not look for any illumination.

You neither can nor should understand what it means.


Listen, it comes with out guitar,
Neither in rags nor any purple fashion.
And there is nothing in it to comfort you.

Close your eyes, yawn. It will be over soon.


You will forge the poem, but not before
It has forgotten you. And it does not matter.
It has been most beautiful in its erasures.

O bleached mirrors! Oceans of the drowned!


Nor is one silence equal to another.
And it does not matter what you think.
This poem is not addressed to you.




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